Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: The January Sale!
Try 3 issues of Empire magazine for just £1
Must-Have Movie Collectibles
Bid on some classic memorabilia
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Christopher Walken
Brooke Adams
Tom Skerritt
Herbert Lom.
Directors
David Cronenberg.
Screenwriters
Jeffrey Boam.
Running Time
103 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Zulu
3 Star Empire Rating
Two For The Road
3 Star Empire Rating
Thief
4 Star Empire Rating
Sirius
2 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
EMPIRE ESSAY: When Harry Met Sally
5 Star Empire Rating
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating

The Dead Zone


submit to reddit


Plot
Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma to discover he has psychic abilities. After helping a small-town Sheriff catch a serial killer, Johnny is convinced that crusading politician Greg Stillson is a potential danger to the world.


Review

One of a wave of Stephen King adaptations from the early 1980s, this was a step towards the mainstream for weirdo auteur David Cronenberg.  It has some of that episodic ‘compressed miniseries’ feel which a lot of King pictures get stuck with (the book was later redone as a TV serial with Anthony Michael Hall) but still manages a lot of powerful material. 

Walken has one of his signature roles as stiff-legged outsider Johnny Smith, alienated by the loss of his entire life (his girlfriend Brooke Adams has married someone else) who foresees disasters wherever he goes.  There’s a mini-psycho picture as Smith helps the cops in King’s small town of Castle Rock root out the killer in their midst, which prompts the film’s few straight shock sequences (a scissors suicide, a mad performance from Colleen Dewhurst as the monster’s mother), but the dramatic meat of the piece comes when Johnny tangles with up-and-coming politico Stillson, a folksy homicidal maniac who now looks horribly like a young George W. Bush. 

Cronenberg gets a lot out of the wintery Canadian locations passed off as King’s haunted Maine, and works hard with his actors – weaving between the s-f/horror stuff is a great deal of underplayed emotion, especially in the heartbreaking business between Walken and the underrated Adams.  Familiar supporting players like Skerritt, Herbert Lom and Anthony Zerbe – who are usually asked to turn up and read their lines – get a little more meat, and rise to the occasion.  And West Wing fans who think Sheen ought to be President should check out his political villainy here.


Verdict
Cronenburg attempting a little mainstream with this Stephen King yarn and really pulling it off.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Dead Zone
Empire Star Rating

Dead Zone

I didnt know what to expect from this Cronenberg film. It started off standarly enough guy in car crash etc but from there on i loved it. I felt Walken's performance made a huge part of the film actually work, also the fim had a great plot with lots of cronenberg weirdness in it. Not Cronenbergs best but still a great film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by OMGWTFBBQ at 20:18, 03 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: The Dead Zone

There seems to be two David Cronenbergs making movies, these days, Cronenberg the auteur(omead RingersashistenZthe Cronenberg who deals in more mainstream, but still grisly efforts(History of Violence adaptation of Stephen King's bestseller d Zoneitely falls into the latter. The story(adapted here by t Boys Lethal Weapon 2 Jeffrey Boam)concerns a schoolteacher implausably named John Smith(Christopher Walken), returning home after a date with fellow teacher Sarah(Brooke Adams), gets in... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Peter A. Quinn at 08:38, 29 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: The Dead Zone

Absolutely loved this movie, played pitch perfect by Walken and improved on King's story(imo) -a rarity for any film. ... More

Posted by kasm at 08:22, 29 April 2006 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
20 Sitcom Spin-Offs That Were Doomed To Fail
From Joey to Ally and back again…

Jessica Chastain Takes The IMDbunker
The Most Violent Year star takes our most random quiz

Five Impressive Oscar Isaac Roles You Didn't Realise Were Oscar Isaac
Welcome to Oscar season...

Johnny Depp And Paul Bettany Talk Mortdecai
How good is your 'Mortdecai face'?

Fables: A Primer
An introduction to Bill Willingham’s wonderfully dark fairy-tale world

12 Hitchcock Remakes Ranked From Best To Worst
Lifeboat in space, anyone?

From Mission: Impossible To Mortdecai: Writer/Director David Koepp Talks Screenwriting
What would you do if you were in charge of the Spider-Man franchise?

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)